Anagrams, the first novel of the American Lorrie moore, which was published more than thirty years ago and Eterna Cadencia now reissued in Argentina, sheds light on the irruption in the genre of one of the most celebrated storytellers of recent times, from a very original text that unfolds the many possible lives of Benna Carpenter, "a mobile book with small satellite stories", as the author herself describes it from her home in Nashville, in the United States.
With a large local circulation, which was strengthened last year when he visited the country to participate in FILBA and present his novel Who will take over the frog hospital?, this writer who has made humor a literary antidote, builds characters who are weighed down by loneliness. "Loneliness will always be with us, I just hope that the coronavirus", says in the midst of a pandemic that in his country has already left more than 80,000 dead.
The author of the story book Self help, in addition to seven others published -among stories, novels and essays, also highly acclaimed by critics-, agreed to answer some questions by email from his home in Nashville, where he is planning the summer return to Wisconsin, such as every year, with the difficulty that “it is managed a lot on flat lands and prone to tornadoes”.
With the translation of Cecilia Pavón, Anagrams he plays with that operation that rearranges the letters and changes the meaning of the word - so typical of riddles and crossword puzzles - and develops a non-linear novel based on three characters that are reconfigured in the five parts that structure the book: its protagonist, Benna Carpenter - sometimes a singer, other senior aerobics teacher or university teacher -, her partner, Gerard; and Eleanor, the loyal friend, the imaginary or the third in disagreement.
How many lives can fit in one? How many are we rearranging, like anagram letters, choices, and possibilities, to alter the meaning of our own existence? Moore's narrative unfolding (New York, 1957) in his first novel originally published in 1986 delves into those questions. In his words: "I thought of reorganization as the fundamental energy for life itself."
-Anagrams"It is a novel that you published more than three decades ago. How do you read it in light of the present?
-To the extent that the novel is about loneliness and the various disconnections between people, it will remain current. Of course, it lacks all the technology that has consumed us over the past few decades, so it may seem like emotional science fiction to young readers. And yet I hope they see something of themselves in character searches.
-It is a novel that breaks with the idea of linearity because each part reflects the possible lives of three characters. What did the commitment to walk different paths mean to those of the traditional novel?
-In the abstract, I thought of the book as a mobile: a central novel with little satellite stories that spring from it. But one has to inevitably impose a sequence between covers, so the format is necessary but not ideal.
-The protagonist of the novel, Benna, is sad and struggles with loneliness. In times of pandemic, where anguish is generalized, do you think that the tragic component imposed by the situation will impact more?
-I really can't answer that. I think loneliness will always be with us. I just hope the coronavirus isn't. I would like to see him restructure himself and become inert.
-The Covid-19 health emergency was presented as an instance to reformulate questions about the future and the possibility of imagining new social pacts, what do you imagine will happen after the coronavirus?
-In many ways it can be an essay for something even worse. And then it is a test of our societies. And the stronger, that is, more egalitarian societies, the better they will take it. America is chaos, a mess, it always was. It has grotesque inequalities and a very weak safety net. And all of this is built from within the government structure itself, but we'll see how that changes.